History Colorado holds a rich collection of architecture-related materials that reflect the history of our state’s built environment, from adobe brick molds of the San Luis Valley to the drawings of Ron Straka, who served as Denver’s first deputy director of urban design under Mayor Federico Peña. But we are actively working to expand our architectural holdings to help tell the many histories of Colorado architecture and urban planning.
This collecting initiative is supported by our Temple Buell Associate Curator of Architecture. Generously funded by the Buell Foundation, this curatorial position is focused on building a meaningful collection of contemporary architectural materials that represents the work of Colorado architects and the state’s built environment more broadly. Reflecting the legacy of influential Denver architect Temple Buell, this collecting initiative focuses on materials from the mid-twentieth century to the present.
Collecting Architecture and Urban Planning
Collecting architecture and urban planning involves working with a wide range of materials. These materials can include anything from blueprints, photographs, and architectural drawings to architectural models, building fragments (like columns or signs), maps, and plans--all of which help document a building or a city. Additionally, personal effects, ephemera, and oral histories tell the stories of the experience of a place as well as the lives of architects.
We are diversifying and expanding our holdings in order to document the state of the architectural profession in Colorado and the built environments of our cities and towns. We are seeking materials that:
Represent the work of women and practitioners from underrepresented communities
Document significant contemporary works of Colorado architecture
Share the histories of Colorado architects, urban designers, and planners
Speak to the lived experience of the state’s architectural and urban development, such as community experiences of displacement or belonging
Reflect the lives of buildings, such as how they have changed over time or stories about their use and re-use
Contribute to documenting the history of Colorado’s architecture and urban planning by:
John R. Henderson, Jr. became Colorado’s first licensed African American architect on October 7, 1959. Henderson worked for prominent Denver architectural firms, including Hornbein & White, but his proudest achievement was the mid-century modern home he designed for his family at 2600 Milwaukee in the early 1960s (depicted above). To learn more about the recent donation of the John R. Henderson Collection, see the article in the Winter 2019/20 issue of Colorado Heritage.
Want to see more of the architecture-related holdings in our collection? Look here.
Coming Soon: Building Denver
Much of our architecture holdings, from collection staples to newly acquired objects, will be featured in our upcoming exhibition, Building Denver. Slated to open in May 2021 at the History Colorado Center, Building Denver will tell the many stories of the growth, urban development, and architecture of the capital city from 1860 to today. By merging issues of design with the lived experiences of Denverites, the exhibition will offer a layered history of the city’s built environment and encourage residents to advocate for their vision of Denver’s future.